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Adventure travel to remote locations around the world; mountaineering in the Himalayas, trekking through the Andes and climbing the Rockies is now not just the domain of a select few, indeed more and more people from all walks of life are venturing into the world's majestic wilderness locations to re-acquaint themselves with nature.

Whilst this may well be a soul rejuvenating experience it can also come at a high price. More than one person over the years has succumbed to the effects of "AMS" or Acute Mountain Sickness. Athletes have long known that to perform to their full potential they need to spend a minimum of 2-3 weeks acclimatising to the "thinner" air at elevations of 1400 metres and above. For mountaineers attempting to summit peaks of the world's great mountains (often at elevations of greater than 7000 metres) spending extended periods of time trekking up to progressively higher altitudes to accustom their bodies to the rigours of high altitude exposure, before returning to lower lying areas to recover, has been the only way to achieve these objectives.

Ambient air at sea-level (ie. at a pressure of 760mmHg) contains 20.9% Oxygen and about 79% Nitrogen with the remainder being a mixture of gases known as Argon. At 3000 metres of elevation the Oxygen (Nitrogen and Argon) content of the air remains constant, however the pressure gradient decreases effectively only allowing us access to about 14.5% Oxygen. The higher you go, the "thinner" the air becomes as the partial pressure decreases. At 6500 metres the Oxygen availability approximates less than half that which is available at sea-level.

The human body is however a highly adaptive mechanism and over time, in many instances, can be taught to cope with this lower Oxygen availability. However get that adaptation process wrong at an altitude of 5000 metres and the consequences can be fatal. That was of course until recently.Now the potential to assess a person's susceptibility to being adversely affected by altitude can be done before they even leave sea-level with the use of a go2altitude hypoxicator.

First used in the mid 1980's in the Russian aero-space program to prepare fighter pilots and cosmonauts for the rigours of extreme altitude exposure, these devices are now successfully being used throughout the world by mountaineers, trekkers and climbers to prepare for high altitude exposures of up to 6500 metres before even leaving sea-level.

Using an hypoxicator prior to travelling to altitude provides two distinct safeguards:

  1. Firstly, it provides a safe and practical method of assessing those individuals who may be susceptible to the adverse (and potentially catastrophic) effects of moving from sea-level directly to altitude.
  2. Secondly, it provides a practical and cost effective mechanism to safely acclimatise at home, over a 3-4 week period, before travelling to high altitude locations around the world. "IHT" or Intermittent Hypoxic Training is a scientifically proven method helping to ensure that upon arrival at altitudes of up to 6,500 metres (ie. Well beyond the level of the Base Camp at Mount Everest) individuals are acclimatised to the rigours of high altitude exposure, minimising risks to their safety.

How does it work?

IHT is the most advanced form of "altitude" training where the "dose" of altitude can be controlled via the use of pulse oximetry (ie. a device with a finger clip sensor that monitors the concentration of oxygen in the blood via a light sensitive beam).

IHT exposes the recipient to "hypoxic air" containing 16 - 9% oxygen (equating to an altitude exposure of 2,000 to 6,500 metres above sea level) intermittently at 4-6 minute intervals alternated with breathing normal (sea-level). The 45-90 minute session is conducted once or twice a day while the participant sits comfortably, perhaps while reading or watching television. A course of acclimatisation requires 15 - 20 sessions.

Exposure to altitude in the aforementioned manner stimulates the various biochemical and physiological adaptations necessary to ensure an increased oxygen carrying capacity within the body, ensuring the user is adapted to the altitude of the proposed destination before even leaving sea-level.


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